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Seidh Trance

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Seidh trance is primarily used to gain advice and/or prophecy uttered by spirits the practitioner is speaking to, sometimes via channeling or repeating the utterances of a nearby spirit, and sometimes faring forth to the realm of the dead, Hel, to find the spirit. Few elements of ancient techniques to induce the seidh trance have survived into the present day. The best picture of the ancient ritual is given in the Saga of Erik the Red. It specifies that the practitioner must sit on a raised seat, specifically with a cushion stuffed with hen feathers. The practitioner should wear a costume consisting of as many elements as possible of: a blue cloak ornamented with stones, a necklace of glass beads, a cap of black lambskin lined with white catskin, catskin gloves, and calfskin shoes. A belt supporting a skin pouch of magical paraphernalia and a walrus ivory handled knife, and a carven staff (with runes or other sacred signs) with a brass knob, also set with stones. It is interesting to note that much of the costume includes the skins of the cat, sacred to Freyja. That the practitioner should have a staff is mentioned also in the Lexdaela Saga.

Appropriate runes to carve on the staff would be Perthro, Kensaz, Ansuz, Algiz, Odal, and Ehwaz. An appropriate symbol would be the heart symbol, which is supposed to have been Freya's in ancient times.

Before the ritual the practitioner should walk around the ritual place and become familiar with it, and there should be, traditionally, an animal sacrifice, in which the querent(s), if any other than the practitioner, eat the sacrifice along with the practitioner. Specifically the practitioner should eat the heart of the animal. This likely is a method of eating the animal's power or soul, and using its strength to power the ritual. Even if eating the heart weren't possible, some of the meat must be consumed. Not all modern practitioners will be ultimately willing or able to carry out an animal sacrifice any more, and so it may work ritual to cosume crops such as grains or corn, and fruits, to at least consume the spirits or power of the plants. Christian records indicate that prayers, sacrifices, and requests for assistance must be offered to the gods. Odin, Heimdall, and Freya are the likely candidates.

There should be a song sung, by a querent or assistant, according to Erik's Saga, but can be sung by the practitioner, though this may be more difficult. Just what this song was is no longer known. But goods words, such as those from the beginning of the Voluspa, can be put to music. (Or simply chanting them can work at need.) The beginning of the Voluspa reads:

Hear me, all ye / hallowed beings,
both high and low / of Heimdall's children:
thou wilt, Valfadhir, / that I well set forth
the fates of the wold / which as first I recall.

I call to mind / the kin of etins
which long ago / did give me life.
Nine worlds I know, / the nine abodes
of the glorious worldtree / the ground beneath.

The reference to the kin of etins may be a reference to Odin, Vili, and Ve, who created the human race.

Though it is not mentioned in surviving sources, drumming would be of enormous use as well. The querent(s) or assistants, if any, should do this. If necessary a solitary practitioner could use taped drumming.

The drumming should slow just before the trance is entered into, and the practitioner should go through a relaxation ritual, which can be as simple as deliberately relaxing each part of the body in sequence. An often more effective one is to deliberately tense up the whole body and hold it that way while holding the breath for 20-60 seconds, and then suddenly relaxing. This might sometimes not be desirable, though. Some practitioners might find it to have the relaxation ritual guided by the words of an assistant, others might prefer to do it internally.

After the meditational state is entered, by influence of the previous ritual, and the drumming and/or singing, the emotions of the seidh worker must be amplified, brought to a boil. (And this is what the name "seidh" refers to, which translates as "seethe".)

At this point some choices must be made, depending on the individual preferences of the practioner. Some might prefer to seek out or call spirits that are relatively nearby, such as local landwights or ancestors. This type might do this simply be going into a deep meditative trance by following the relaxation with meditation and an utter and complete relaxing of the mind. (Note: the ability to so thoroughly relax the mind may take much practice.) Some may just passively wait and see what arises, or passes by, in the form of visions or impressions. Others might call something out, either the names of certain spirits, or types of spirits (such as "all wights of the land"), or just call out "who is there?" or "what is there?" Still others might prefer to use the spell from the Mound Sitting ritual:

Far below, Hela's hall
Holds the dear departed.

Dwelling there as well is one,
Wise and strong, whose aid I seek.

And frosty, frail, the Gioll bridge
From here to there does run.

How to call from out of howe
Hero, shade, and ghost I know.

Now I call, now I call
AKOZER, the dead shall rise!

Hear my call, harken well
Head across the bridge to me.

Sacrifice of strength I've made
Sent to aid the journey here.

Take it all, take it now
Tell me what I want to hear.

My word is binding, more binding than sleep, more binding than the promise of a hero!

Some practitioners might prefer to speak this themselves, others might prefer to have assistants speak it.

Variations can be made for other spirits than the dead, such as landwights:

Sacred stones and holy trees
Hold the folk of Huldra.

Dwelling there as well is one,
Wise and strong, whose aid I seek.

And gold the pillars holding high
The hall-roof of the alf-kin.

How to call from out of howe
Sprite, and alf, and landwight I know.

Now I call, now I call
AKOZER, the alfs shall rise!

Hear my call, harken well
Head across the land to me.

Sacrifice of strength I've made
Sent to aid the journey here.

Take it all, take it now
Tell me what I want to hear.

My word is binding, more binding than sleep, more binding than the promise of a hero!

Calls to gods can be made too, though these shouldbe in the form of prayers rather than commandings with rune words.

Rune words that will help the practitioner channel the spirit would be:


The first word indicates combination (and more, as do each of them), the second revelation, the third harmony, order, and perfection, the fourth combination again, and the fifth creation of a partnership through divination.

Other seidh workers may prefer to fare forth, send their spirits out of their bodies and into Hel or the surrounding land to find the spirits. This can be done utilizing the following methods:

The unitary state of faring forth is in essence a divinatory state of rare power and detail. It is, in essence, the whole of the universe in miniature, wherein every part of it is a divinatory vision of the corresponding portion of the "external" universe, formed by parallel Fermi processing greatly amplified by the unitary state of consciousness. It is experienced much like the "outer" world is experienced. There aren't simple flashes of visions; there is one great steady vision, giving the magician a solid impression of seeing with his or her normal eyes, and furthermore this vision is (generally) continuous, that is with no breaks or gaps. Hearing is usually weaker than vision in this state, but still quite strong. Sense of touch is usually absent in most practitioners, but is sometimes developed with experience. Taste and smell are often absent, though a sense of smell without taste impressions is not entirely uncommon.

Before beginning faring forth practice, there is an exercise that should be mastered, a necessity for success. Most people have a sense of themselves as being located in their heads (having learned that the brain is the seat of thought and feeling). But this is not an actual sensation of location of the self. There is no location of the self. The self is an emergent feature of the complex chaotic dynamics of the brain and the body, a concept, an abstraction. There is no actual reason to feel it being "located" anywhere. The feeling of being "in" the head is an attachment, something that will hold the practitioner down. The practitioner should become able to shift the sense of where his or her self is, to the hand for instance, or a toe, or the heart, and to maintain this impression for at least a few minutes.

There are several different methods of actually separating the soul from the body. (The preceding ritual is just to make the procedure possible, it is not the entire process itself.) The first of them makes use of a large mirror. In a deep meditative state, aware of the spirit worlds (the Outgarths), the practitioner should sit in front of the mirror in a comfortable fashion. Making use of the skill developed in the exercise of the previous paragraph the practitioner now must take it one step farther, and place his or her sense of self into the mirror image, and to see him- or her- self as looking out of the mirror and into the physical world. (This is accomplished by the strong visual similarity of the mirror image to the physical body being fixated upon while in an altered, easily confused state of consciousness, which the unitary state then makes feel real.) Once this has been done the magician is in the Outgarths, and should then get up and leave the room and go into the further reaches.

A note here is appropriate on moving in this state. The practitioner can move along just fine as long as he or she is unaware of how exactly the motion is being accomplished, but the moment awareness sets in, there is usually a tendency for beginners to try to move their legs. But this will not actually provide motion while in spirit form. Worse than this, by attempting to make too much use of physical systems the practitioner will quickly attain too much physical awareness and be drawn back into his or her body (lose the unitary state). What should be done instead is to look at the place the practitioner wants to move to, gently will him- or her- self to be there, and hold a sense of expectation about getting there, without visualizing how it is done. Motion will ensue.

If the above ritual is unsatisfactory (most practitioners actually only respond well to one or two of these techniques) there are others. One such is to lie prone in a comfortable place, either naked or with loose comfortable clothing. (At first all possible distractions should be eliminated to make it as easy as possible. Later the practitioner should become stronger and learn to do it even in disadvantageous circumstances.) While aware of the Outgarths, put the awareness, the sense of self, in the solar plexus. Once this is done, project energy out from the solar plexus into the air immediately above the self. At first this energy will look (to the third eye or Second Sight - the physical eyes should be closed) like a vague, diffuse mist. But as the process continues, the practitioner will find his sense of self leaving his body with the energy and joining it hovering above the body. (This is because of the unitary state operating upon the mixed imagery of the self residing in the solar plexus and energy being projected out from the solar plexus.) Once a sufficient percentage of the conscious self is outside the body the haze of energy will shape itself to the form of the body (later the practitioner can learn to alter the shape of this, the hamr, into other forms). Once this is done the practitioner should leave the room he or she is in (at this point it is actually the astral double of the room) and go into the further reaches.

Another method is to get into the usual "aware of the Outgarths" state and develop a strong visualization of a flight of stairs (the more "otherworldly" or "magical" the stairs look, the better). There should be a symbolically appropriate number of steps (like nine, perhaps, for rune magicians). Slowly, regularly, the practitioner should visualize ascending the steps to a door at the top. Once there the door should be opened. If enough strength has been put into the visualization then the Outgarths lie on the other side of the door, reached via unitary state association upon the imagery and symbolism of ascending the stairs.

Yet another method is to hang a tapestry on a wall in front of which the practitioner is to sit. It should have thin, light designs upon a black or dark-blue background. The practitioner should focus on this background until it attains a three dimensionality. Once this is done he should project his sense of self into it. This is an entry point into Ginnungagap, from where anywhere else can easily be reached.

Yet another method is to make a recording of harmonious ascending or descending (depending on the tastes of the magician) tones, and in a state aware of the Outgarths, developing a sense of rising up out of the self in accompaniment to the sounds, or sinking down out of the self.

The practitioner should, especially, as a beginner, at all costs refrain from looking at his or her own body when first leaving it. This will inevitably pull the practitioner back into the body too rapidly to be prevented. An experienced practitioner of great strength can bear the sight without being pulled back in.

Beginners should establish a place in the Outgarths from where they can easily get anywhere they want, such as Yggdrasil, Ginnungagap, an image of the Tree of Life, etc. Alternately some might prefer it to be a base, sanctuary, or home.

It is possible to sometimes get lost in the Outgarths and become unable to find the way back to the body. But simply waiting calmly will always resolve the situation. Eventually the pull of the body will make itself felt, or the practitioner will fall asleep and wake up back in the physical world. Sometimes, though generally only for advanced practitioners, injuries received to the hamr become reflected in the body (though usually less seriously, mostly in the form of bruises, sometimes in the form of cuts or illnesses). It is interesting to note that in general the beginner in such practices is the safest, while increasing experience brings increasing danger.

It is one thing to learn to fare forth. It is another thing entirely to remain in that state for any significant period of time. In this highly developed unitary state subconscious association is quite rapid indeed. This tends to cause diffusion in thought processes resulting in shifts and alterations in environment. (Much the way a candlestick in a dream might suddenly become a mushroom, for example.) Left undisturbed this is not a bad thing. The environment will maintain a high degree of integrity with changes that, while dream-like in nature, have their own internal logic, much like Alice's Wonderland. But if anything is focused on too strongly, fixated upon too much, then this association becomes very unbalanced very rapidly. The focus the mind has upon any one image or thought is inversely proportional to the control that mind has at that moment to define the direction the mind's thoughts are going in. So the higher the focus, the more probably the mind will suddenly skip off in a random direction. And this sort of sudden random shift as likely as not will be jarring enough to at the least completely alter the entire environment around the practitioner and at the worst end the unitary state. Similarly any time the focus grows too diffuse then the direction the thoughts are moving in grows too strongly defined, and becomes a torrent of energy that can sweep the practitioner helplessly along with it, taking him or her to undesired places, usually, or even out of the state. The thing to do is to tread lightly, and to maintain a balance between focusing on specific things within the environment and on being aware of the direction things around the practitioner are moving in. If something must be interacted with for an extended period of time then the following method is suggested:

Look at it in a variety of different ways in rapid succession. Look first at one side, then another, then let the gaze slide naturally beyond it to the landscape it sits in, then perhaps see it out of the corner of the eye to get a general idea of what it is doing, then look suddenly at it square on, etc. The point is to stay constantly interacting with it, but never sticking for even a moment with interacting with any particular aspect of it. This builds up a gestaltic understanding of it, which is necessary for the sort of unitary state processing that goes on while faring forth, as it is very prone to Fermi processing.

At first the beginner to faring forth should stick to the parts of the Outgarth nearest the physical world. The above-mentioned problems are less severe there. It is only with experience that the farther realms of the Outgarths should be traveled to, and only with even more experience that the worlds of the gods should be visited. These are powerful places, and the least imbalance can set up a force strong enough to be experienced as being caught in a whirlwind that can throw the practitioner out of the world of the gods and out of the unitary state entirely. It should also be noted that those worlds cannot be reached without the assistance (even if the mage is unaware of it) of an assistant spirit(s) such as his or her fetch.

Rune words that might help the practice of faring forth are:


The first refers to inspired revelation, the second to journeying and revelation, the third is symbolic of the world-encircling ocean, in which Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent dwells (a metaphor for Ginnungagap), fourth implies inspired revelation through ordering and journeying.

While faring forth there must be an ordered progression from the Outgarths near the place in Midgard the practitioner began all the way to Hel, or to the landwights. To this end the practitioner should familiarize him- or herself with the salient features of the road to Hel. They are:

1) The near Outgarths, a near double of Midgard.

2) The Gioll river, which flows somewhere through the lands of Midgard, and hence through the near Outgarths. It is found within deep valleys. This river should be followed.

3) Through Svartalfheim. A large part of Svartalfheim is a complex of underground caverns, in which are to be found the dwarves. Some of these caverns are very worked and beautiful, others plain and natural. The river is still followed.

4) The Gioll Bridge is approached. It is delicate and frail, and covered with glowing gold. Crossing it, it shakes and resounds loudly, like the practitioner were heavier than a host of the dead who normally cross it. This is because of the living nature of the practitioner. Care must be taken to hold the spirit calm and still while crossing it. It is guarded on the far side by the maiden Modgud, who may ask the practioner his or her name, and lineage, and reason for travel to Hel. She will point the road down into Hel, which lies downwards and to the north.

5) Gnipa Cave is reached, a great cave inside which is Garm, a giant wolf, chained so that he faces the gate inside the cave, to prevent the dead from escaping. He may be frightening, but he should ignore the practitioner.

6) Hel proper is entered. It is filled with mist. There are places for feasting, and repose, benches and tables for gatherings. Beer and food are provided. Hela is the goddess who rules it. Half of her face is young and beautiful, half is decayed and dead.

Some practitioners will prefer that assistants guide the faring forth experience by describing the salient landmarks of the journey. Other practitioners prefer to simply travel through them with no such guidance other than from inside.

Once the spirits have been consulted the practitioner will journey back to Midgard in the reverse order he or she journeyed out, and in either case the spirits who answered should be thanked and dismissed.